The Yukon Ski Team is now down to zero Greers.
A few months after her brother David called it quits last spring, cross-country skier Janelle Greer quietly decided to retire from competition during the off-season.
Reasons to retire outnumbered reasons to continue on, explained Greer.
“A few things,” she said. “One was injury. Last year I had compartment syndrome surgery that didn’t heal well. Instead of taking four to six weeks, it took five months. So I didn’t do any races last season.
“That forced me to see other things going on, other than skiing. I escaped from it for a while. I took a trip with one of my best friends to New York and it totally got my mind off skiing and how frustrating it’s been to recover from this. That opened up my eyes to the rest of the world.”
There was also a matter of support from the sport’s national governing body, Cross Country Canada, said Greer. It’s a sentiment that echoes one her brother’s reasons for retiring.
CCC is often more preoccupied with helping current national team skiers than helping others reach that level. It’s even worse for women, she said.
“Politics and stuff,” said Greer. “There are a few hiccups in the system for Cross Country Canada, how things are run.
“Looking at the future for girls in the sport, it didn’t look like things would be resolved any time too soon.
“There’s not much support … For the women’s national team, there’s only been one girl on it all summer.”
Though shorter than she had hoped, Greer’s career was an illustrious one.
The 21-year-old, who was born and raised in Whitehorse, competed at seven national championships, winning a total of 13 medals.
She represented the Yukon at two Canada Winter Games and three Arctic Winter Games, collecting four gold ulus in 2006.
She spent three seasons on the junior national team and represented Canada at the FIS Nordic Junior/U23 World Ski Championships in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
“Those are definitely some of the highlights because that’s as far as you can get in that age group,” said Greer. “Each trip I managed to be the top Canadian once or twice. That’s something special.”
Greer, who also has an older sister Brittany who skied at the national level and went on to ski for the University of Alaska on a scholarship, showed a lot of promise early on. In her first junior world trials race in 2005, Greer took on older skiers in a race she had never done before – a 10-kilometre classic – and still took a top-10.
“I had never done a 10K and I had no idea how to pace myself,” said Greer. “I managed to finish in seventh place.
“I was 14 in a 20-and-under category, so that was a big shock.”
The 2007 season was a good one as well. She won the aggregate award for her age Haywood Ski Nationals and represented the Yukon at the Canada Games in her hometown.
“That was cool because we were considered the underdogs in that competition,” said Greer. “Emily (Nishikawa) did well, but the rest of us weren’t medal contenders individually. But when we teamed up in the relay, we won a bronze medal. That was pretty special.”
Though the compartment syndrome – a lack of blood supply to the muscles that can cause nerve damage – helped end her competitive career, the injury has helped Greer decide her future.
“I’ve been thinking for quite a while what I’d like to pursue after skiing. I always thought nursing,” said Greer. “After spending so much time, five and a half months in and out of hospitals, I got to see more of behind the scenes, it built on thinking what I’d like to do.”
Greer plans to attend university next year to begin the process of becoming a nurse. She hasn’t decided upon a school yet.
“Thank you for everyone who supported me through it,” said Greer. “I had some personal sponsors in Whitehorse the last three years while skiing in Canmore and that helped me greatly.”
“I will definitely keep skiing,” she added. “I have yet to talk with the coach – with (Yukon Ski Team head coach) Alain (Masson) – but I think I’ll be helping out with some of the ski teams in Whitehorse. I think that would be fun. Give back some of what was given
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